So there will be snark and worldbuilding and lots of spoilers and the process of rebuilding a novel from the bones of its former corpse.
50,000+ words (eventually) of Fun!
Daily Wordcount: 2688
Total Wordcount: 10076
Somewhere in the mists the sounds of fighting echoed. Snarling hounds, screaming humans, and the short sharp bark of handguns were muffled by the nothing.
“Tell me why this was a good idea again?” Jon asked, turning his head back and forth trying to locate the source of the sounds. But they stubbornly refused to be located. “This is a fun walk and all, but so far all we’ve seen is more nothing.”
“It takes time,” Winjya said, pausing every so often to sniff the ground and then change direction slightly. “There are the bits of story out here we need to find.”
“Wait, so are you taking us away from to towards the shootout?” Jon asked, alarmed. “I vote for away, I vote lots of times for away, so don’t pull the ‘dogs outvote Jon’ stupidness. Plus it’s just you. So far.”
“That isn’t part of your story,” said Winjya. “That’s Owen’s, I’m trying to find something slightly further down the story tree so we can find the rest of the Pack.”
“Who the heck is Owen?”
“An antihero, apparently.” She stopped to sniff again. “Ah, here we go.”
“Wait, how did you know about-”
“I am a Hound,” she said, dismissively and led him further into the dark.
The Writer wandered back into the world with a giant handful of notes, index cards, and colored markers with a slightly manic grin. “Hello again my wonderful antiheroes!”
Owen and the Hind looked at each other, slightly alarmed.
“Okay, side trip down memory lane before we get into this rewrite,” the Writer declared as she dumped the pile onto the writing desk, which expanded to fit. “I need you nice and solid in my head before I bring you into the story.” She gave Owen a measuring look. “Actually you might need a wardrobe trip first.”
“Fine by me,” Owen shrugged. “I’d just like to be be in the story, right now my existing wordcount is getting scrapped so I’m sitting at nothing.”
“Hmm, let’s see…” the Writer squinted and Owen felt himself starting to solidify, which was a very very odd feeling.
“I’m being fandom-casted aren’t I,” he said suspiciously.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the Writer said, flipping through various fandom fictives trying to find a good match. “Nope, nope, nope, darnit… As much as I’d love keeping you as Owen from Torchwood, I don’t think that’s really going to work.”
There was a paused as Owen looked up his doppelganger on his phone. Which worked in the Veil for reasons beyond rational explanation. “Actually, that’s not horrible, a little shorter than I’d like, but I can work with this.”
“Well, err, fine then?” The Writer blinked. “Just don’t actually start acting like him or there will be issues.”
“I’m happy being my own personality,” said Owen in annoyance. “Which is still needs a bit of building, I might add. Still at wordcount zero.”
“One dive into character creation coming up!”
Owen and the Hind watched the Writer as she tore open the nothing next to them and started spinning him up a backstory. A very violent backstory, but that was the way of the world.
The night he died was cold and dusted with more mist than rain. Owen was out walking after dark because that’s what you did when you didn’t have a home. Being an orphan runaway kid sort of sucked. Seriously.
But he stubbornly insisted to the nagging voice of reason in his head that it was better than having someone else in control of his life. He’d spent too long after the accident having other people tell him where to live and what to do, he was tired of it. So the cold didn’t matter. Much.
There was a sudden burst of noise in between the buildings and flashes of blue that caught his eye. That and the screams for help. For reasons that had never made sense to him he always ran towards trouble instead of away, even after the accident he couldn’t help trying to save people.
Even if the universe had proved he was never going to be able to.
The alley was filled with ghostly blue light, but all he could see was a pack of dogs attacking someone who was on the ground yelling for help and trying desperately to fend them off. The dogs flickered like broken strobelights and seemed to glow. It was really weird and creepy and should have made him stop in his tracks, but his brain is in superhero mode and the fact that there were enough dogs to kill them both never registered.
So Owen yelled a battle cry even as he dialed 911 and he startled the dogs and that got them off the man just long enough for him to finally pull out a gun and start shooting. And Owen couldn’t see what he’d shot at, but the dogs scattered and the alley suddenly went dark.
But Owen was almost there and he stumbled to a halt, kneeling over the man who was coughing up blood and had already dropped the gun to curl in on himself in pain. He’s saying something but Owen can’t hear him, even as he tries to figure out what’s wrong he knows he’s going to have to watch someone die. Again.
So he grabs the man’s hand and holds it and tells him he’s there and it’s okay, over and over as he dies on the sidewalk until he notices that the alley has gotten very blue again. But this time when he looks up it isn’t a pack of hounds slavering with death in their eyes but a giant ghostly deer with antlers half snapped off and giant gashes leaking blue smoke along it’s sides.
It makes a sad low noise and it noses the man on the ground who reaches up to it, still babbling in a language Owen can’t quite follow. Then the glow moves from the deer to the man, just a little and he can feel the man relax a little, but the deer staggers and goes down on one knee, antlers coming so close they graze his cheek, but he can’t feel the pain or the wet warmth of the blood because the man is suddenly speaking english.
“Promise me, promise me you will take care of him.” The man is desperate and holding onto him with a steel grip, but he’s dying and Owen can see the blue light fading in his eyes. “Promise me.”
“Who?” Asks Owen, desperate to help even though he knows he can’t do anything. He can never do anything.
“Promise me,” he gasps.
“I do, I will,” said Owen crying because he’s only a kid and he’s already watched too many people die. “I don’t know what you want me to do.”
There was a grunt and the deer caught his attention with deep blue eyes that seemed to go on forever and suddenly he knew. With a shaking hand he reached out to pet it’s nose, lost in the unreality of the moment.
The deer grew more solid under his touch, the blue strengthening as it went with each heartbeat it looked firmer, more real, he could see the wounds fading under the path of the light, the rips slowly closing and the light that was seeping out fade into a faint glow.
But as the deer got stronger the man on the ground got weaker and Owen let go of the deer to focus in on him again.
The ambulances and police got there only a few moments too late and by that time the deer was nowhere to be found.
“Good grief, can this series be a little less depressing?” Owen wiped his eyes as the scene faded out and the rip in the nothing closed around it.
“Actually, it has to get scarier if this is going to be a proper horror fantasy,” said the Writer with a shrug. “I need to make sure those dogs are horrifying, hmm.” She tossed around a few more adjectives, but nothing stuck so she gave up for the moment. “But I’m not sure why it was such a big deal to find him someone to bond with.”
“It would also help if I actually had a name,” snorted the Hind. “I am getting really tired of being referred to as my gender or my species.”
“Names again!” Objected the Writer, followed by an unrepeatable mutter. “I swear the next thing you know I’m going to have to start naming towns and streets and things.”
The Hind just gave her a look.
“Fine, fine, lemme see what I have in the ‘random collection of words’ bin.” She pulled up the online dictionary and started googling things in gaelic. “Hah, Ven, there you go.”
“What on earth does that mean, other than ‘I am lazy and want short names to type.'” Owen gave the Writer a suspicious look.
“It means ‘friend’ in Danish. Per the internet.” the Writer attempted to look positive that the internet provides only the best translations.
“That’s… not horrible, but I still think it’s cheating because it’s too short.”
“Says the person with a four letter name,” said the Writer. “Anyway, the fact that Ven needed to bind to someone else that quickly after his Hindsman’s death makes me wonder if it’s harder for Hinds to find partners than it is for the Hounds. The Hounds just bite someone and poof.”
“Maybe we’re just more polite,” said Ven, still getting used to his new name.
“I’m guessing the Hinds must need to get some sort of verbal promise or something. Or maybe it’s that they can’t go unbound that they need to always have an anchor.” The Writer looked thoughtfully at her notes. “But if they do the whole ‘must transder from from one person to another’ then any unbound Hind won’t have a chance to pick up someone and the Hounds would have a much easier time of winning.”
“I’d prefer a setting in which we don’t get slaughtered,” said Owen. “I’m selfish like that.”
“Fine, fine, so the Hind bonding has to be something similar to the dogs, they need the blood binding which really only is the Veil critter gets the blood of a human. But the human has to be one that can bond.” There was much shuffling of notes as the Writer tried to track down the relevant index cards from the old novel. “Maybe there are less humans who can bond to the Hinds, but that makes no sense– because the Hounds and the Hinds are made from the same Veil stuff. It has to be more political or philosophical, it can’t be a physical limitation. But the Hinds are also the bad guys, do we really want to go with an Evil that’s mostly just a difference of opinion?”
“I would point out, once again, that your definition of ‘bad guys’ needs some serious work.” Owen was not amused. “So far we’ve got some creepy stuff, I’ll grab you that, the whole ‘putting dead people into newborns’ is just disturbing as hell, but I’m not really seeing a Dr. Evil on our side. At least not yet.”
“And I’d point out most of the Evil out there is just a difference of opinion. A strong opinion, fair enough, but that’s all.” Ven shook his head, trying to work out the kinks of being in storage for almost a decade. “We are working as cross-purposes, that’s enough for now.”
“That still doesn’t tell me why there was that desperation for you to be bonded before your anchor died,” objected the Writer. “He was pretty adamant that he got the promise from you before he passed and Ven was fading pretty fast.”
“Not as fast as the dogs,” Owen pointed out. “They went out like a light when their anchor was lost.”
“Maybe there’s something special about Owen,” Ven said after a moment.
“The general idea from the first go-around was that Jon could bond with the Dogs because he had Huntsmen in his family tree somewhere. Which makes me wonder if this is genetic somehow.” The Writer frowned at her notes. “But I can’t figure out how that would work.”
“You were on about Veil creatures being born as humans,” Owen said, but he said it with a shudder. “So maybe that’s where it came from– Somewhere deep in the past we got a little bit of the nothing that messed up our genetics?”
“That would make sense, I suppose. Hmm, wait that means at some point someone knew that this was possible. And the Veil critters are supposed to be immortal, so why would they have forgotten?”
“We don’t have to be immortal,” Ven pointed out. “Or we don’t have to have immortal memory. Things get fuzzy over time, even in human terms you never quite remember events the way they really happened.”
“That’s a pretty powerful story to forget,” said the Writer.
“But who says anyone actually knew it happened?” Asked Owen. “Look, it the requirement for a Hind or Hound to bond to a human is that they have an ancestor who was a Veil reborn, right?”
“That’s the current theory.”
“Which means it didn’t happen prior to that reborn going out and having kids.” He pointed out. “So there weren’t Hinds or Hounds prior to that because none of them could actually affect either side. There would be no point to them existing.”
“But do any of them realise that that’s the reason,” said the Writer. “It could be that none of them realised that it even happened, only that they were suddenly drawn to some of the people in Live and in Death and it turned out they could bond.”
“That would also add the power that the Veil creatures could sense any of the bondable humans on either side of the Veil, which would make for an interesting alert system,” pointed out Owen. “Unless they were distracted by, oh let’s say a fight, they’d be easily able to pick out one of those humans from a distance.”
“You are lodestones,” nodded Ven. “I can see how it would be easy to find you,” he looked over at Owen. “You glow so brightly to us… especially if you are in the Veil where you do not belong.” The last sounded slightly ominous, but he’d shifted his gaze and was looking at the Writer.
“Hey, NaNo’ing here!” she objected. “You want a story or not?”
“Right now, we’re getting a little lost in the minutia I think.” Owen said, “Let’s get back to the story and put aside just how the whole Hinds and Hounds thing started– we can circle back to that once we have a little more of the world hashed out.”
“Right, right– okay. So there is a fight, the Hunstman is shot and is killed but not before the Hindsman is critically injured. He is dying but Owen comes to save them and has enough of the gene that they know they Hounds are likely to try and bind him so they bind him to the Hind to keep him safe-ish. So he’s powerful-ish then? Someone that is worth fighting over?”
“I’m not going to stop you from making me awesome,” Owen pointed out mildly. “But if Hounds and Hind bind to the same people, doesn’t that mean someone could also bond to one of both?”
Ven gave him a very grumpy look.
“He has a point,” said the Writer, but she was eyeing the story outline. “I don’t think that’s a plot point I want to hit anytime soon though, even if I’m pretty sure it won’t work. That’s just too complicated.”
Owen shrugged, “Just a thought.”
“So where were we again,” the Writer frowned and looked over at her two antiheroes. “Still with the backstory?”
“Sure why not,” Owen sighed, “It’s not like I’m tragic enough as it is.”
“I’ll do something happier this time,” the Writer promised and turned to stare off into the mists. “I hope.”